Stanley TucciStanley Tucci is an American actor, writer, film producer and film director. He was nominated for several notable film awards, including an Academy Award for Best Supporting Actor, for his performance in The Lovely Bones (2009). Tucci's other recent celebrated roles have been in The Devil Wears Prada and Julie & Julia. He has been nominated three times for Golden Globes, and won twice — for his title role in Winchell, and for his supporting role as Adolph Eichmann in Conspiracy, both from HBO films. He also received a Screen Actors Guild Award nomination for Winchell. He was nominated for Broadway’s Tony Award as Best Actor in a Play for his role as Johnny in the 2002 revival of Terrence McNally’s Frankie and Johnny in the Clair de Lune.
Jordan Salcito is a sommelier, wine-maker and chef. She cooked with Daniel Boulud at his flagship restaurant and has worked as a sommelier in several of New York's finest restaurants, including Eleven Madison Park. Jordan is currently Wine Director at The Crown in Manhattan and will be releasing her own label, Bellus Wines, later this year.
Gail Simmons is a trained culinary expert, food writer and dynamic television personality. Since the show’s inception, she has lent her expertise as a permanent judge on BRAVO’s 2010 Emmy-winning hit series Top Chef and is host of Top Chef: Just Desserts, its pastry- focused spin-off, now entering its second season. Gail joined FOOD & WINE in 2004 and directs special projects for the magazine. During her tenure, she has been responsible for overseeing the annual FOOD & WINE Classic in Aspen, America’s premier culinary event. Prior to joining FOOD & WINE, Gail was the special events manager for Chef Daniel Boulud’s restaurant empire.
Stephen J. Dubner
Stephen J. Dubner is an award-winning author, journalist, and radio and TV personality. He is best-known for writing, along with the economist Steven D. Levitt, Freakonomics (2005) and SuperFreakonomics (2009), which have sold more than 5 million copies in 35 languages. The Freakonomics enterprise also includes an award-winning blog, a high-profile documentary film, and a public-radio project called Freakonomics Radio, which Dubner hosts. He lives in New York with his wife, the documentary photographer Ellen Binder, and their two children.
Tommy Tune is one of the most prolific director/choreographers of the 20th century. He has been honored with 9 Tony Awards celebrating him as a performer, choreographer and director, including Best Direction of a Musical for Nine, Grand Hotel and The Will Rogers Follies. In addition, he has been awarded 8 Drama Desk Awards, 3 Astaire Awards, and the National Medal of Arts (the highest honor for artistic achievement given by the President of the United States). In 2009, he was designated as a Living Landmark by the New York Landmarks Conservancy. This year marks his 50th year in show business with his latest work, Steps in Time.
Castellare di Castellina
Castello di Querceto
Castello di Querceto
Marchesi de' Frescobaldi
Chianti is located in the heart of Tuscany in central Italy, and includes vineyards in the provinces of Prato, Florence, Arezzo, Pistoia, Pisa, and Siena. No other Italian DOC (Denominazione di Origine Controllata) produces more grapes or more wine—over 8 million cases of Chianti wine are produced annually. Most of the best known and most highly regarded wines come from the Chianti Classico sub-region that stretches from Siena in the south to Florence in the north. Rufina, northeast of Florence, also produces some very high quality wines. The other sub-regions of Chianti include Aretini, Colli Fiorentini, Colli Senesi, Colline Pisane, Montalbano, and Montespertoli.
The Chianti province was first defined in the mid-13th century by merchants from the towns of Castellina, Radda, and Gaiole who formed the "Lega del Chianti" (Chianti League) to promote local goods, especially wine. In 1716 the Grand Duke of Tuscany, Cosimo de' Medici, mandated that only the small area including the three towns of the "Lega," plus land near the villages of Greve and Spedaluzza be recognized as official producers of Chianti wines. The zone remained unchanged until the 1930s, when the Italian government expanded it dramatically.
Chianti Classico has a continental climate, with winter temperatures at about 40°F and dry, hot summers with daytime temperatures reaching 95°F, although it is cool at night. Temperatures do not vary substantially in the course of a day, which is partly due to the altitude, which ranges from 800-2,000 feet, exceeding 2,500 feet in the Chianti Mountains. These are perfect conditions for slow-growing, slow-ripening grapes, such as the finicky Sangiovese—the grape which is the “soul” of Chianti wine. Areas further west have a slightly milder, more Mediterranean climate because of their proximity to the seacoast.
Terrains in Chianti Classico are rugged and similar to those of Bordeaux in France, where vines literally fight to obtain nutrients from the sandy, rocky earth by sending their roots deep into the soil. Limestone and clay predominate in most areas of Chianti except in Rufina, where the soil contains much marl and chalk. The calcium carbonate tends to impart a smoky flavor to Rufina's wines.
The earliest reference to Chianti as a wine dates from the early Middle Ages, describing a white wine produced in the Chianti Mountains near Florence. Baron Bettino Ricasoli is credited for devising the basic formula for Chianti wine in 1872. His "recipe" calls for a blend of 70% Sangiovese grapes, 15% Canaiolo, and 15% Malvasia bianca. This version of Chianti was presented at the World Exhibition of Paris in 1878, meeting with great success. Subsequently, international demand for Chiantis grew steadily. In the late 20th century, vintners began to decrease the percentage of the white Malvasia grape in their Chiantis, and now the inclusion of white grapes is completely prohibited. Currently, for a wine to be designated a "Chianti," it must be made of 75-100% Sangiovese, up to 10% Canaiolo, and up to 20% of any other approved red grape variety, usually Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot or Syrah.
For more on Tuscan Chianti, click here.
Photo of Chianti Classico courtesy of the Consorzio del Vino Chianti Classico Gallo Negro.
• Italy’s iconic wine, Chianti, originated in the Chianti Classico region of Tuscany. Visit www.chianticlassico.com, for more information on the region and its wine.
• The Etruscans, who predated the Romans, undertook extensive grape-growing and wine-making endeavors as early as the 8th century, B.C., in Tuscany. (The region’s name is derived from these ancient inhabitants, the Etrusci or Tusci, as the Romans called them.)
• When the image of a black rooster appears on the neck of a Chianti bottle, it is an indication that the wine’s producer is a member of the prestigious Gallo Nero (“Black Rooster”) Consortium, an association of Chianti producers from the Classico region.
• The Chianti region today is often called the “Bordeaux of Italy.” Both regions are expansive and produce and export large amounts of popular red wines—from modest table wines to the finest premium wines.
• Chiantis always used to be packaged in a distinctive gourd-shaped, round or not completely flat-bottomed bottle called a fiasco (Italian for “flask”). The fiasco sits tightly in a woven straw basket which provides both protection during transport and a flat, stable base for the bottle once it is opened. The fiasco is still considered the classical container for chianti, but many wine-makers now utilize a standard bordolese or Bordeaux-type bottle.
• Don’t confuse “Rufina” with “Ruffino.” After the Chianti Classico area, the Chianti Rufina area is the second best-known Chianti sub-region within Tuscany. Rufina, the region, has nothing at all to do with Ruffino—a large Tuscan wine company. It was founded in 1877 by Ilario Ruffino and is one of the leading exporters of Chianti wine.